Seeking Serenity from Chaos: Self Harm
There are lots of reasons for why one might intentionally harm themselves; to feel numb, to feel anything, out of guilt or sadness among other reasons. For me, it has always been anger based. Something unexpected and disappointing happens, I take it out on myself. I make a big mistake (or any, really) or mess something up and my skin becomes the sacrifice. Whenever something intense (and sometimes not that intense) happens, anger is my go to emotion and self harm is my release. It's the only way that feels, I guess, safe. Crying is unacceptable and too vulnerable. Weak. And being destructive is too scary; I become the anger. The heat and force from this emotion which was once resting in my gut soon envelops me. It takes over and bad things happen.
So instead of retaliating against the person who hurt me, instead of throwing things around and making a mess of my tidy living space, I become the target. It's easier that way. Safer. As with my eating disorder, self harm is a way to protect myself from difficult emotions. It keeps everything that's bubbling under the surface, under the surface. So I don't have to let anything show and can keep up my guise as being alright. It keeps the chaos inside while creating its own in exchange for a warped sense of serenity. False peace. You don't have to educate me on why I shouldn't engage in such behaviors, I already know the reasons. And I'm working on believing them.
Speaking of beliefs, a lot of people believe that self harm is just a way to get attention. Let's explore that for a moment. I'm sure there are some people who injure themselves to get noticed by someone/s. But why is there such a stigma over that? If someone is intentionally causing themselves pain to get the attention of another, there is obviously something deeper going on inside of them. And they should get appropriate attention. They need it and deserve it. They're craving something internally and are not getting it. In my case, as is the case of some others I know, self harm is not about "getting attention" because my scars are easily concealed and not something I'm proud of.
That's such a hard concept isn't it? Think about everything that entails. Letting go, giving up, relinquishing, laying down one's desire for another. Not easy stuff.
So as part of treatment, one of the things the patients are encouraged to do is surrender (as if we weren't surrendering enough) any harmful coping skills or eating disorder related things. Recently, I surrendered a self harm tool. And it was like I was losing something special to me. It doesn't make much sense but, I find myself missing it. I could easily replace the one I gave up but that particular one holds... fond(?) memories. No. Comforting. Safe. Yeah, that particular tool holds safe and comforting memories of when I felt so unsafe and was in so much discomfort and how it was readily available to change all that. While I'm still wrestling with how I feel over having given it up, I know it was part of the process to aid me in my recovery.
You might be in your own process of letting go of some chaotic serenity and I imagine it to be ridiculously difficult, especially if you still feel the need for it. But I also imagine it to be worthwhile in the end. And that's something that I have to tell myself when I notice that I crave what used to be. Surrendering is a part of the process of recovery. It stings like hell and hurts way more than self harming ever did but at least I know this cut won't end in scars, rather, it will result in healing and that I will proudly display.